[Interview] Lucas Maignan, Whyse CEO: Encouraging exchange between employees

Lucas Maignan is CEO and founder of Whyse, a tech startup born out of a community "side project". We caught up with him to find out more about his company and his background.

"About 3 years ago, Yann Boris Robin and I launched a CTO community on Slack, the aim of which was to encourage feedback and the creation of emulation in the world of French tech decision-makers. We realized the need for tech leaders or talents to have a framework of trust, in which they could share and exchange on their daily challenges; it was a real lack they felt."

Having come up with a concept of putting people in touch with each other, which was eagerly awaited by the community, it didn't take long for the simple exchange channel to give rise to a more global structure, as Lucas Maignan explains.

"The idea wasn't to set up a pure CTO community, but to create a product that promotes feedback within professional communities. At that point, we quickly set off in search of investors. Many of our first investors were business angels who were already members and users of the community we had set up."

The creation of this product was followed by many others. In fact, a number of structures have sprung up, directly or indirectly, as a result of these contacts. These include Tech Rocks and The Family.

"We developed the technical aspect alongside the natural development of the community. Once this matured, we merged it with that of Francis Nappez, CTO and founder of Blablacar (and Whyse investor), who was already well integrated into the tech ecosystem."

This is how the project took on its current form, less directly linked to the community that gave birth to it, but usable in a wider context, with the objective of a Business to Business connection.

"We quickly realized that a large proportion of C-levels and employees were, or felt, isolated. Today, we connect the talents of different companies, so that they can share their experiences, discuss their day-to-day challenges and inspire each other. It also means that some people quickly have a professional network to turn to when problems arise. "

The objective is clear: to provide rapid access to feedback, to help these people solve operational issues and problems. The evolution of the target audience is leading to wider adoption among Whyse's customers.

"We currently work a lot with tech companies. Our solution is aimed at companies with between 10 and 500 employees, and the majority of our customers are tech-oriented startups. Our targets can be managers or young talents, whatever their line of business. Today, we can see that around 30% of our product's users are in the technical area, with the remaining 70% divided between marketing, sales and operations. Until now, many customer success managers didn't have the tools they needed to exchange information simply with their peers."

Collaborative working is an inherent habit in the tech industry. However, it is not limited to this sector, and the need to exchange ideas can be found in all business lines.

"We emerged from this niche through word of mouth. Our users know that within their companies the need to share is not limited to tech, it's just a practice that's more widespread. In my opinion, this can be explained in part by their educational background, where sharing and group work are the bedrock of engineering schools, and subsequently, they are brought up on open source and stackoverflow communities."

This willingness to put people in touch with one another is part of a stated aim to implement a " pay it forward " strategy (giving back to others what has been passed on to you by someone else).

"The aim is to create a virtuous circle that benefits everyone in a community or society. It's a concept that's very much in evidence in Anglo-Saxon countries, where individuals get involved in local communities, and mentoring is highly developed there. This philosophy has a very positive impact both on society as a whole, where mutual aid is very present, and within companies themselves."

"At Whyse, we develop this approach to the maximum through targeted networking. Everyone benefits, both sender and receiver. We try to build strong relationships as a brand with users, so that they understand that they will always have someone to talk to. I believe that the culture of sharing is built up over time. Whyse's experience isn't just instantaneous, it's also an accompaniment for talent that allows them to be in a circle of trust and to always be able to be put in touch with someone to share at the moment or in the future."

The development of this relationship is an ongoing process at Whyse, with analysis during onboarding to better understand user needs, and algorithmic segmentation to propose the most relevant matches.

"The idea is rather to be in a give and take rather than a pyramid mentoring system where one person gives and one person receives. We believe that we can always learn from others, and to do this we need to be in contact with the right people to create synergy."

Lucas Maignan's qualities as an entrepreneur reflect the image he wishes to develop for Whyse.

"I see two of them, even if it remains subjective according to each person's appreciation: I see resilience and integrity. Resilience, because I think that entrepreneurship is complicated before you can have the aura and success of the great, well-known entrepreneurs. There's a long way to go, and today I'm right in the middle of it, and I'm well aware of the difficulties along the way. In fact, I find the road much more interesting than the success.

The second quality is integrity - it's what builds trust, whether it's with your employees, your investors or your customers... it's crucial to success."

This entrepreneurial drive comes from the parental model, but also from the desire to create a product or service with the ultimate aim of having a positive impact on others.

"My parents had a porcelain silk-screening business, with skills that have always fascinated me. I've always admired their vision, their sense of responsibility through their craft and tradition. The impact on a local ecosystem is paramount."

To find out more about Whyse 's solution, click here.

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